Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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The best way to spread the word about your business

How do you get people to spread the word about your business?

I’m going to answer this question for you in today’s post. It’s based on a chat I had with an accountant yesterday.

The usual kind of thing

So, a local accountant wanted to know what was the best way to spread the word about his business. I asked him, what kind of accountancy services he provided. He replied with: “You know… the usual kind of thing, Jim.”

Here’s the key part of my reply.

  • If you want the story of a predictable business to reach 100 people, you need to tell 100 people. This is because dull stories don’t spread. You have to push them. You go to networking events, constantly advertise or pester people with emails, etc. The story itself doesn’t spread, because predictable stories don’t have legs.
  • If you want a great story, about a business doing meaningful work, to reach 100 people, you tell 1 person… and it spreads. That person tells several more. They do the same. This is because great stories have legs. You nudge them with effective marketing and watch what happens. It’s beautiful. And extremely successful.

Just a little better, faster or cheaper

No one feels compelled to tell their friends about an accountant, (coach, designer, trainer, marketing consultant or whatever), who is just a little better, faster or cheaper than the rest.

If you want the word to spread about your business, improve the story. Make it worth sharing. Be meaningfully different from your competitors.

Then, put your story into the marketplace and watch it travel from person to person. This generates word of mouth referrals, endless sales leads… and frees you up to focus on making your business even more remarkable.

Recommended reading: Is the dream behind your business inspiring enough?

Marketing Foundations: 3 Tips to massively increase your sales

marketing foundations, marketing tips

Did you know there’s a common marketing mistake, which loses small businesses a fortune? Well, there is and it could be hurting your business… without you even knowing it!

Here it is, along with the solution.

Marketing Foundations

It’s all about getting your marketing foundations in place. The problems happen, when you ask a prospective client or customer to make a purchasing decision too soon… before you have the foundations in place. That’s because these foundations are essential to successful marketing.

In brief, there are 3 things you need to do, before you are in a position to make high volume sales or attract great, new clients:

  1. Demonstrate your professionalism.
  2. Clearly explain your proposition, (what your product or service is and what the benefits are).
  3. Earn their trust.

Let me expand on these 3 points for you, with some ideas on what you need to do, to massively improve your sales results.

Here they are — 3 tips to help you increase your sales. Massively.

Marketing Foundation tip 1: Demonstrate your professionalism

I see this mistake, every hour of every day. This, by itself, can destroy a business. If you’re skim reading this post, read the following paragraph!

You can’t expect people to buy from you or hire you, until they have checked your credentials and are satisfied you are a professional. However, that’s exactly what small business owners, coaches and consultants do all the time. They contact potential clients with links to their cheap looking websites. They use homemade logos and DIY business cards. They use freebie, Gmail / Yahoo email instead of branded email addresses, etc.

People are extremely visual. We think in pictures. It’s impossible to look professional, when you operate behind amateur looking marketing. We can’t expect people to believe we are professional, when it seems we can’t afford the peanuts required to get a professionally designed logo and website.

Similarly, we give an equally bad impression if prospective clients think that looking professional, isn’t important to us. That details are not important. That we’re fine about being associated with cheap looking work.

So, before you even think about marketing your products or service, make sure the impression you create is professional.

Marketing Foundation tip 2: Clearly explain your proposition

One of the oldest and most valuable sayings in professional marketing is this:

“A confused mind always says NO.”

By default, if someone asks us to make a decision, especially one involving money, before we have all the information we need, we say NO. We either say no to whatever they ask or we say no to making the decision itself. This makes perfect sense. We’ve been told since childhood to look before we leap.

Very, very few people will take a leap into the unknown and buy from you or hire you, when they are still unclear about what exactly your proposition is. So, before you ask a prospective client or customer to make a decision, make sure you have given them the information they need. This marketing foundation is built by ensuring you have clearly explained your proposition and asked for questions, to get and give, total clarity.

Marketing Foundation tip 3: Earn their trust

People will not buy from us, hire us or recommend us, unless they trust us. In fact, trust is perhaps the most important element of our marketing foundations.

There are a couple of important things regarding trust, which we all need to be mindful of:

  1. Trust needs to be earned.
  2. Trust takes time to earn.

We live in a time where we can send a marketing email to 10000 people with a button press and have them arrive minutes later. We can send people a link to a special offer via a social network, which is almost instantly in front of our contacts. (Unless you use Facebook.) We can write a blog post, press the publish button and have it available to the world, immediately.

However, we can’t click a button and earn people’s trust. Here’s the thing: Unless we have already earned the trust of the people who receive those messages, they are extremely ineffective.

Earning trust takes time. We need to build it. Asking someone to hire us or buy from us, before we’ve earned their trust, simply doesn’t work. This is especially the case for those who sell services or higher priced products.

So, take every opportunity to earn the trust of your marketplace. There are many ways to do this. For instance, I work hard to earn the trust of my marketplace, by showing up regularly with useful blog posts. Anyone can check me out, simply by clicking the link on the sidebar of Jim’s Marketing Blog, where I link to every post I have written since 2008. This body of work shows I can be relied upon to turn up. It shows my ability to stick with a project. It also demonstrates my expertise. All of these help me to earn your trust… over time.

You can do the same with a simple (free) WordPress blog, newsletter, podcast, public speaking… whichever suits you best. Here are some other ideas for earning trust.

Build your marketing on solid foundations

In a nutshell, great marketing, which sells and gets noticed is built on solid Marketing Foundations. Asking for the sale or trying to encourage a prospective client to hire you, without these marketing foundations in place, will dramatically lower your conversion rates. If you think you’re saving money or time by ignoring them, you are making a potentially fatal marketing mistake.

How to create attractive, memorable marketing

When you market your business just like your competitors, you fade into the background. You lack impact. You become predictable and easy to forget.

For example:

  • Over the years, I must have had thousands of pushy strangers hand me their business card. How many of them can I remember? None of them.
  • Every day I receive impersonal marketing emails from people. How many can I remember? None of them.

That’s because superficial interactions wash over us. They leave no lasting imprint.

The human touch

What we do remember, are the people who sincerely reach out to us with something meaningful to share. We remember the people who recommend us to their contacts and friends. We remember the handwritten notes. We remember the people who respond, when we need feedback or support.

Business is all about people. If you want people to remember you, do something useful and memorable. Something that touches them. Something that requires thoughtfulness.

Hint: You can’t do this with copycat marketing or by automating your business relationships.

Recommended reading – How to make your business more human and far more successful too.

How to work fewer hours and get things done!

I know a lot of business owners, who work a minimum of 10 hours a day. Some work even more. In most cases, it’s completely unnecessary.

Sure, they may be spending 10 hours at work, but they could do everything that needs to be done, correctly, in far less time.

Time sucks

Instead, their time gets sucked up with things like:

  • Unnecessary phone calls.
  • Underutilising technology.
  • Attending too many meetings.
  • Writing over-long emails.
  • Poor delegation.
  • Lack of planning.

If you want to find the fluff in your working day, ask yourself the following question:

“How would you change your work flow, if you could work a maximum of 5 hours a day, for the next 3 months?”

Write your answers down. Anything in your work flow, which you would remove or improve if you had just 5 working hours a day, should be acted on. Try it for a few days and see what happens.

You may find an extra few hours a day. You may only find you save one hour a day… but still worth the effort, no?

PS: If you want to earn more and work fewer hours, here’s a great tip for you!

Organic marketing on Facebook?

“Teaching people the best way to market organically with Facebook, is like teaching them the best way to butter bread, with a spoon.” — Jim Connolly

How to create big business plans and achieve them!

I asked you an important question yesterday. I wanted you to consider if the dream behind your business was inspiring enough. Inspiring enough to attract great clients, customers or investors, etc.

Today, I’d like to show you how to overcome the main barrier to creating that type of big, compelling dream.

Drum roll please…

What stops most people, is the enormity of the task. It seems too big. Too much to take in. Too complicated. Too daunting.

The secret behind the biggest successes

The secret, if there is one, is that every big dream, big plan and big success starts off as a seed. Just an idea. A “what if?” moment. A fleeting thought in the shower. A hunch. It’s what we do with that seed of an idea, which makes the difference.

Time after time, we find that the biggest successes were just little successes… which someone didn’t give up on.

Is the dream behind your business inspiring enough?

Every truly great business story, starts off with someone, who has a dream. An inspiring, exciting dream.

Steve Jobs famously motivated key people to work for Apple, by sharing his dream with them. He encouraged John Scully to leave Pepsi, by asking:

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

The power of a compelling dream

How big is the dream behind the typical small business?  Not very. The thing is, if we want to attract the best team members, partners, investors, clients or customers, we need dreams and plans, which will inspire them.

How do we know if we are on track? We know by the way people react when we share our plans with them — they sit forward, eyes wide open. Most tellingly, they want to be a part of it!

Why?

Because People love to be a part of something exciting. As they say, we are all working toward the fulfilment of a dream, either our own dream or someone else’s.

If your business isn’t attracting the people or attention it needs, check how compelling your plans are. Get this right and it makes everything else so much easier, enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding.

How did a boring blog post get shared over 3000 times?

I was emailed today by a reader, who pointed me to a blog post she’d just seen. She noticed something VERY suspicious… an exploit was being used to trick the blog’s readers.

As a lot of people get taken in by this exploit, I thought I would answer her question here.

How a poorly written post got over 3000 shares on social networks

I am not going to call out the blogger my reader noticed, who was using this trick. It’s not my style. Also, it’s a common trick and I don’t want to single out one person for using it.

So, what did my reader see?

  • The post in question was published just 4 days ago.
  • It has over 3000 shares across the various social networks.
  • However, only 4 people commented on it.
  • It’s just a generic post, poorly written and littered with errors. Other posts on that blog are of the same quality and they also get thousands of re-shares.
  • The blog carries ads for get rich products and was not professionally designed. It’s extremely hard to read.
  • Yet… it got over 3000 shares.

To put that 3000 number into context, it was more shares than Copyblogger and Seth Godin’s blog managed, combined, with their posts on the same day! They are 2 of the most read marketing blogs in the world, with massive audiences.

Here’s how the trick works

The blogger in question is one of many, who has found a way to game the system by joining automated, social re-share networks. These are groups of Internet marketers, who use software / apps to automatically re-share everything that everyone in their network publishes. By joining a handful of such networks, with a few hundred in each, you get hundreds or thousands of reshares for anything you publish.

Why do they do this? Because it fools most people into thinking the blogger and their work are popular and valued. It’s all about the power of Social Proof.

Re-share networks and fake social proof

The number of shares a blog post gets on social networks is used by readers, as a way to assess the value of the content and the ability of the writer. They look at those huge numbers and assume the information in the blog post must be great (otherwise why would so many people share it?). The answer, of course, is that it wasn’t people who re-shared it… it was software!

Other’s then legitimately re-share the post, even if they think it’s crap, simply because they see it’s (apparently) so popular and assume they must be wrong.

As you probably know, you can buy Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Well, you can also pay for a series of automated Twitter and Facebook accounts to retweet and ‘like’ your posts. These are slightly different from re-share networks and even harder to spot. A simple search on Google shows just how common these services are.

With re-share numbers so valuable, it was only a matter of time before internet marketers figured out a way to game the system. Anyone can do it now. Some, like the blogger in question, have taken this to ridiculous lengths. Most join only a few, small re-share networks, to make it less obvious.

Trust your instincts or pay the price

The reader who contacted me, trusted her instincts. She knew that a dull blog post, on a cheap looking blog, with just 4 people commenting, does not get 3000 legitimate social network shares.

You too must use your instinct. Don’t automatically assume that you can trust information you read online, because it has a massive number of retweets, likes, pluses and pins etc. If something seems like bullshit, go with your gut.

In short: Before you trust a blogger or what they write, look beyond their social network numbers. Anyone can get hundreds of re-shares and the practice is spreading. Trust your instincts.

PS: Here are some tips on how to spot the fakes.

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